Federal court reinstates CEMEX contracts

Abandoned equipment stands at the Cemex site in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

A federal court announced this week that it had reinstated CEMEX’s mining contracts, a decision that Santa Clarita City Council members are calling an “egregious precedent.”  

For roughly 25 years the Santa Clarita City Council and local community leaders have been fighting the potential mining operation in Soledad Canyon, which would mine up to 56 million tons of sand and gravel.  

The decision announced on Wednesday by the U.S. District Court vacates both the Interior Board of Land Appeals decision made in 2019 and the Bureau of Land Management decision made in 2015. Because of this, BLM no longer has a valid decision indicating that the mining contracts are expired or terminated. 

“This week’s decision by the U.S. District Court is irresponsible and sets an egregious precedent on federal mineral contracts,” said Mayor and CEMEX City Council Ad Hoc Committee member Laurene Weste, via a press release distributed by the city on Friday. “These contracts were canceled by the Bureau of Land Management, and that decision was subsequently reaffirmed by the Interior Board of Land Appeals.  

“To reverse the action and reinstate the CEMEX mining contracts puts our residents, natural environment, wildlife and our community’s quality of life, in danger,” Weste added. “This issue is far from over, and we will continue to fight and oppose any and all mining in Soledad Canyon.” 

The battle over Cemex has been ongoing since the federal government first approved the contract in 1990, according to city officials. Opponents to the mining operation say that it will add 1,164 trucks per day on local roads and freeways, and that transportation, along with the mining operation, will cause air quality issues and negative environmental effects.  

“This court action reverses the decades of dedicated work by our community leaders, environmentalists and local organizations,” said Mayor Pro Tem and CEMEX City Council Ad Hoc Committee member Jason Gibbs. “Mining in Soledad Canyon would create lasting devastation to our air quality, add traffic to our roads and negatively impact our local environment. The city is exploring any and every option — and will remain vigilant on this crucial issue.” 

According to the press release regarding the decision, the city says it is working with special counsel and seeking information from the federal government on potential next steps in an effort to assess all options. 

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